The North West’s first intergenerational care village, home to both older people and young children living and learning together, has celebrated its launch with great fanfare and celebration, as Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Sheila Little, declared Belong Chester officially open.
Marking the latest dementia-friendly development by not-for-profit care operator, Belong, the guest of honour unveiled a commemorative plaque before guests were treated to a heartening performance from Sankofa Songsters, the village’s very own intergenerational choir.
A pioneering facility, the City Road village supports older people to live their lives independently, with the site’s integrated day nursery, operated by national charity, Ready Generations, offering extensive experiences for all ages, under one roof. The nursery children feature in the daily life of residents and tenants, enjoying experiences together including shared mealtimes, stories, arts and crafts, exercise, and ‘prambles’ – rambling with pushchairs – now a familiar sight in Chester.
Speaking of the ceremony, Councillor Sheila Little, Lord Mayor of Chester said: “It was a pleasure to look round the village and officially open Belong Chester, and to meet staff and residents. This is a particularly exciting and innovative development as it includes a nursery, which benefits both the children who attend and the residents who visit to play and read to them. I look forward to visiting again to see how the village is growing and developing.”
Patrick Butler, general manager at Belong Chester, added: “We’re thrilled to commemorate our official opening; it’s been a wonderful day full of laughter, joy, and plenty of fizz. We invite everyone who has yet to visit us to come and say hello, see what we have to offer, and enjoy a coffee in our bistro, now we have officially arrived!”
Breaking the mould of more ‘traditional’ care environments, the £21 million state-of-the-art village incorporates six extended family-sized 24-hour care ‘households’, 23 independent living apartments, as well as the children’s nursery. Centred around a vibrant hub of amenities, including a bistro, hair salon and specialist exercise studio, the site is open to the public, creating a bustling environment for customers and the local community. The organisation’s award-winning home care service, Belong at Home, is also based at the site.
Belong Chester is the eighth village in the dementia specialist’s group and its fourth in Cheshire, with its other sites in Crewe, Macclesfield and Warrington.